SC seeks CBI’s response on plea over coal mining case in WB


The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a plea against a Calcutta High Court order allowing the CBI to investigate a case of alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal in West Bengal in the absence of consent from the state government.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah also declined to grant protection to Anup Majee, an accused in the alleged illegal coal trading in the Asansol-Raniganj belt in West Bengal. Majee’s counsel cited that his client may be arrested on Tuesday, as he has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate.

Majee, the director of a company involved in buying and selling dry fuel, claimed in his plea that the CBI lacks jurisdiction to register a case after the state government withdrew its general consent in 2018.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing the West Bengal government, supported Majee’s contention. On the question of law, Singhvi cited that the state had already withdrawn its general consent.

The top court issued a notice to the Centre and the CBI and sought their reply by March 1.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Majee, submitted before the bench that the CBI’s appeal before the division bench of the high court was not maintainable.

He added that the February 12 order was passed without any jurisdiction. Rohatgi said the February 3 order of the single bench was not appealable as it was passed under criminal jurisdiction.

The bench replied that it will examine the matter. Clarifying the proceedings before the single judge, Rohatgi said it was in connection with quashing of an FIR registered by the CBI against the petitioner and others and insisted that allegations against his client were politically motivated. The bench observed that in the present matter, both the state and the petitioner are aggrieved parties.

Addressing Rohatgi’s submission seeking protection from arrest for his client, the bench said that nothing would happen to his client at this time.

A division bench of Calcutta High Court had stayed a single bench order, which restricted CBI investigation into alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal to just “railway areas” of the state. Majee’s plea seeking grant of protection from any coercive action was also turned down.